By GRAHAME ANDERSON
Award winning Mumtaz restaurant on Bradford’s famous Great Horton Road (not connected to Mumtaz Restaurant Leeds) has broken religious guidelines by selling a cake containing ingredients not classed as halal food. The Deluxe chocolate gateau was purchased for the celebration of Eid by local customer Kanwal Hussain in the summer.
The Back Story
She told Asian Sunday: “The cake was purchased on the 15th of June for Eid because my mum loves that particular gateaux so much. She lives over in Keighley and I decided to drive while my husband sat in the passenger seat with the boxed cake on his lap. It was then he noticed the list of ingredients on the side of the packaging, clearly saying there was alcohol and beef gelatine in the mixture. This of course goes completely against religious guidelines for Muslims and we were appalled, as it obviously wasn’t halal.
“I got straight back to the restaurant to tell them, and they asked if I could bring it back and they’d be happy to give me a refund for the £30 cake. They said the cake had been a wrong delivery and wasn’t the normal one they get from their usual, Destiny Foods in Manchester. They would investigate the matter further.
“I heard nothing back so emailed them three days later with a full complaint, but despite chasing things up I received no apology or reply. I have been eating this cake for years, and so have my friends and family members. I am very disgusted to learn that being a Muslim company, they have been serving this cake which contains alcohol and beef gelatine, to Muslim customers. I am also shocked at the lack of a complaints process for such a large restaurant.”
Supplier Clear on Deliveries
Destiny Foods confirmed to Kanwal this was the same cake containing both alcohol and beef gelatine they’d been delivering to the restaurant previously. A spokesperson also confirmed no separate cakes are made especially for Mumtaz which do not have those ingredients in the mixture. It was not a wrong delivery.
Kanwal photographed the list of ingredients on the box to confirm the cake wasn’t suitable for the following:
Product specifications provided by Destiny Foods clearly confirm the presence of beef gelatine, whole milk, egg, gluten, brandy syrup, Lecithin E322, lactose, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass powder, natural vanilla and white and dark chocolate decoration.
The Heart of The Matter
Asian Sunday contacted the restaurant with customers in mind to ask if their products were labelled. We were told they weren’t. When asked if everything on their extensive menu was halal, a spokesperson said: “We don’t use anything else”. While the supplier clearly labels the ingredients on their products supplied to the restaurant, there’s no such indication of labelling at Mumtaz.
We have also learned from The Halal Food Authority there’s no binding law to say the restaurant must inform a customer their cake is or isn’t halal, though some restaurants can get certification for foodstuffs. But it’s not compulsory. In terms of religious rules however, the faith says a Muslim should inform another Muslim if the item offered is halal whether it’s permissible for consumption or not.
Looking for Answers
We went back to the restaurant to ask why they had not replied to the customer on two separate occasions only to be told the management weren’t available. We were also told however, ‘if the customer has had a refund – what more do they want’. Following several more attempts to get a clear answer from the restaurant, a spokesperson for Mumtaz requested more time to resolve the matter with the customer, promising to offer us a statement in return.
Two weeks later Kanwal told Asian Sunday she was offered £150 in vouchers to withdraw her story from press.
Kanwal added: “Not only is this too little too late, it also feels like a bribe simply to retract my story. It’s the principle that counts and I don’t feel like a valued customer. I’ve lost trust in the restaurant and just don’t feel like eating there anymore.
“It makes you wonder if anything else on the menu isn’t strictly halal, and it’s such a shame because I’ve enjoyed going there for years now. I could have got a halal cake at any two or three other places but went back to Mumtaz out of loyalty. They don’t serve alcohol on their premises as the owners are Muslim, so you naturally assume the product is 100 per cent halal.”
Following an appeal from the Mumtaz management asking Asian Sunday’s Editor Fatima Patel not to print the story, a meeting was arranged involving all parties. A spokesperson for the restaurant acknowledged to Kanwal errors had been made. They were thankful to Kanwal as had she not told them, they may have ‘unknowingly’ continued to serve the cakes containing beef and brandy. Mumtaz Bradford maintained throughout they had no knowledge of the contents of the cake. They said in the meeting that there had been a supplier change, and it may be the supplier who changed the recipe.
Kanwal reminded everyone the cake box had ingredients clearly printed on the side. How come after all these years not one person had noticed? The spokesperson said it was a training issue and as a result of the complaint, they will be offering training to staff alongside a proper menu inspection. They wanted to put things right and assured Kanwal that the cake has been taken off the menu and a full inspection had taken place on all their products.
As a loyal customer Kanwal felt wronged and argued that she be compensated for all the ‘haram’ cakes she and her family consumed till date. On calculation this figure would come to around £4000. Initially the Mumtaz Bradford spokesperson accused Kanwal of being greedy however, following negotiations, it was finally agreed that Kanwal accept a compensation figure of £300 and not tell her story providing Mumtaz Bradford an opportunity to ‘put things right’ internally. Kanwal agreed and was promised a call back within an hour to confirm if Mumtaz Bradford management had also accepted.
Kanwal however received no call within the hour or the next day and no compensation was paid.
Kanwal said: “I am extremely shocked at the behavior of the restaurant. Not only have they done wrong, they then try to make me believe I am wrong for complaining. The stress I have undergone these last three months is taking its toll on me. I simply wanted the restaurant to value my 12 years loyalty as a regular customer and to put right what they did wrong. As a Muslim I don’t want to live with the knowledge that other Muslims could be consuming ‘haram’ cake like I did. I wanted their (Mumtaz Bradford) assurance that they have taken the cake off the shelf. I would never have known this or even had the meeting about my complaint had it not been for the media. I am truly disappointed “
Asian Sunday is still waiting for an official statement on the matter from Mumtaz Bradford
Things to Remember
Customers do have a right to challenge food providers on the ingredients used in their food, or if they are not happy with the product provided under consumer. They can also ask to see available certification should it be available.
The Foods Standards Agency says allergenic ingredients must be indicated in a list of ingredients with clear reference to the substance or product.
According to Gov.uk you don’t have to show particular information on the label for every kind of product, but if you include it you must be accurate.
Law on The Web, The UK’s legal information website advises When eating at a restaurant, you are entitled to the same rights as with any other goods and services, including the requirement that the food should be “as described” and “of reasonable quality”. Obviously, it must also be safe to eat. An example of a meal not being “as described” might be if it did not include some of the ingredients you expected or were promised